B vitamins

There are a number of vitamins within the ‘B group’. They all have important functions and can be found in a variety of foods.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. It has several important functions, including:

  • allowing the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
  • helping form haemoglobin (the substance that carries oxygen around the body)

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, such as:

  • pork
  • chicken and turkey
  • cod
  • bread
  • whole cereals, such as oatmeal, wheat germ and rice
  • eggs
  • vegetables
  • soya beans
  • peanuts

The amount of vitamin B6 you need is about:

  • 1.4mg a day for men
  • 1.2mg a day for women

You should be able to get the vitamin B6 you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take vitamin B6 supplements, do not take too much because this could be harmful.

Do not take more than 10mg of vitamin B6 a day in supplements. However, continue taking a higher dose if advised to by a doctor.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 has several important functions and is involved in:

  • making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy
  • releasing energy from the food you eat
  • processing folic acid

A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.

Good sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • meat
  • salmon
  • cod
  • milk
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • yeast extract

Adults need about 0.0015mg a day of vitamin B12.

If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet.

If you take vitamin B12 supplements, do not take too much (more than 2mg) because this could be harmful.

Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. It has several important functions, including:

  • helping produce energy from the foods you eat
  • helping keep the nervous and digestive systems healthy

Good sources of niacin include:

  • meat
  • fish
  • wheat or maize flour
  • eggs
  • milk

The amount of niacin you need is about:

  • 17mg a day for men
  • 13mg a day for women

You should be able to get the amount of niacin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

Taking 17mg or less of nicotinic acid supplements a day or 500mg or less of nicotinamide supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid has several functions, such as helping release energy from the food you eat.

Pantothenic acid is found in almost all meat and vegetable foods.

You should be able to get all the pantothenic acid you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take supplements, do not take too much because this might be harmful.

Taking 200mg or less a day of pantothenic acid in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2. Its functions include:

  • keeping skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy
  • producing steroids and red blood cells

Good sources of riboflavin include:

  • milk
  • eggs
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • rice
  • mushrooms

The amount of riboflavin you need is about:

  • 1.3mg a day for men
  • 1.1mg a day for women

Riboflavin cannot be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.

Thiamin (vitamin B1)

Thiamin is also known as vitamin B1. It has several important functions, including:

  • helping break down and release energy from food
  • keeping nerves and muscle tissue healthy

Thiamin is found in most types of food. Good sources include:

  • pork
  • vegetables
  • milk
  • cheese
  • peas
  • fresh and dried fruit

The amount of thiamin you need is:

  • 1mg a day for men
  • 0.8mg a day for women

You should be able to get all the thiamin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take supplements, do not take too much because this might be harmful.

 

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